Snow Ball in Seattle : Basketball: Freak blizzard makes trip to arena a nightmare for Sonics and Orlando Magic. Most ticket-holders fail to show for 122-105 Seattle victory.

From Times Wire Services

First, the SuperSonics had to make it to the arena through a blizzard. After that, plowing through the Orlando Magic was almost easy.

A freak storm dumped snowfall ranging from 8 inches downtown to 14 inches in some suburbs Tuesday evening. Winds gusted to 60 m.p.h. on Puget Sound, tens of thousands of homes were without power and children were stranded overnight in more than three dozen schools.

Consequently, only 1,568 spectators made it to the Seattle Coliseum--there were 10,475 tickets sold--to watch the Sonics beat the Magic, 122-105, Tuesday night.

Several Sonics talked about their nightmarish journey to the Coliseum.


“It took me about 45 minutes to go three blocks,” Sonic center Michael Cage said. “I just parked my car and walked the rest of the way. I wondered if the game would be canceled.”

Seattle gets lots of rain but little snow and has practically no snow removal equipment.

Seattle Coach K. C. Jones and guard Dale Ellis were late arrivals.

Jones arrived in the middle of the second quarter. The trip from his Issaquah home took four hours instead of the usual 30 minutes.

Ellis didn’t arrive until the end of the third period. He played three minutes in the fourth quarter and made both his shots.

At least the Sonics could take comfort in the victory. Orlando’s players traveled about 3,000 miles and encountered a winter nightmare.

“I knew it was going to be a long night when we left the hotel and on the way here, the bus got stuck,” Magic forward Jerry Reynolds said.

“It was so cold in here. We did not handle the ball well and we did not get warmed up until the second quarter,” Reynolds said.